Christine van Riper

RMS Carpathia First Cabin Passenger

Christine Nilsson van Riper

Mrs Christine Nilsson Van Riper, née Roeck, was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA on 7 April 1873.1 She was the daughter of a Swedish-born father, liquor broker Julius Ernest Roeck, and the former Celine Marie Theriott, an American-born woman of French descent. 

Although born in Illinois, Christine and her family relocated to Manhattan, New York when she was very young; her father died in May 1877 and her mother never remarried. 

Miss Roeck was married in Manhattan in June 1896 to dye works employee John Spanton Van Riper; they had three children: Charles, Florence and Kenneth and by 1910 the family lived at 126 Pennington Avenue in Passaic, New Jersey. 

In April 1912 Mr and Mrs Van Riper were first cabin passengers on the Carpathia when that ship rescued the survivors of the Titanic disaster. Mr Van Riper stated that at about 1.30 am his wife was awakened by commotion of the crew up top who were making preparations to welcome the survivors, including the noise of lifeboats being slung out; hanging out a porthole and questioning a member of crew about what was happening, Mrs Van Riper was informed that nothing was amiss. Not being satisfied with the answer she left the cabin and asked a stewardess what all the excitement was; the stewardess told Mrs Van Riper to say nothing, but that word had been received that the Titanic was in distress and that their own ship had changed course and was heading to give assistance. 

Mr Van Riper then rose from bed, dressed and went on deck where he observed a number of crewmen busying themselves preparing the lifeboats; at around 4 am the Carpathia passed by “three immense icebergs” and about fifteen minutes later the first lifeboats were sighted. Mr Van Riper stated that several of the lifeboats contained just a fraction of their full capacity; he also stated that Bruce Ismay was arrived in a lifeboat filled mainly with women and was in such a state of emotional distress that he was immediately escorted to the physician’s quarters and “at once placed under opiates…” never being seen again during the voyage back to New York.

Mr and Mrs Van Riper relinquished their own stateroom to survivors; after the Carpathia landed the survivors to New York, the couple resumed their journey to Europe. 

Christine Van Riper and her husband spent much of the remainder of their lives living in Manhattan. Widowed in May 1951, Christine died in February 1961 and was buried in Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn with her husband. 


  1. Year of birth under dispute; stated on her headstone as 1873 but other dates given in various records include 1874, 1875 and 1876.

Research Articles

Günter Bäbler Titanica! (2019) Carpathia Passenger List

Newspaper Articles

Passaic Daily News (19 April 1912) A Thrilling Story of the Carpathia
New York Times (19 April 1912) RMS Carpathia: First Class Passenger List including place of living or booking

Documents and Certificates

RMS Carpathia: First Class Passenger List printed on board
Search archive online

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Gavin Bell, UK
Günter Bäbler, Switzerland

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2021) Christine Nilsson van Riper (ref: #2919, last updated: 25th July 2021, accessed 16th September 2021 16:27:00 PM)

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